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tv   Focus on Europe  PBS  October 10, 2017 12:30am-1:01am PDT

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damien: hello, and welcome to "fokus on europe." this week i am in berlin. i am damien mcguinness. the parliament is about to vote in the building behind me. right now, angela merkel's party is set to win. but her challenger, martin schultz, is not giving up the fight so easily. his supporters are doing all they can to persuade undecided voters to choose a new, left-wing government. historically, unna is a mining town and a social democrat stronghold. there is a keen sense of community here in the ruhr valley. but the mines were closed a long time ago and party membership is shrinking. new recruits are desperately
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needed. people like 23-year-old sebastian kratzel. he's a student, and joined the social democrat party a few weeks ago. >> for me, the spd represents social fairness. people who are not so elitist. ifo comfortable with the spd. damien: so does horst brinkhoff. he has been a member for 50 years. today they're both here to see martin schulz, who's on the campaign trail. >> let's hope we can mobilize enough people. >> i hope so, too. the turnout here looks pretty good. damien: martin schulz is trailing behind merkel in the polls. despite leaving high school without a diploma and not going to university, schulz has a successful political career under his belt. the current leader of the spd, he previously served as head of the european parliament.
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he's a fiery speaker, whose passion for social justice, the cornerstone of his campaign, is palpable. >> in urban centers, two incomes often aren't enough to pay the rent at the end of the month. we want a cap on rents, we want to prevent them from skyrocketing. a country with the sort of surpluses that germany has must make the dignity of elderly people a focus of its policy. that is generational justice. damien: applause for the spd's frontunner. still, his chances of winning the vote on september 24th are slim. incumbent chancellor angela merkel has been in office for 12 years and makes campaigning look effortless. today's she's in brandenburg, outside berlin. there's a lot of resistance here in eastern germany to her liberal refugee policy. right-wing extremists interrupt her speech.
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ever unflappable, merkel takes it in her stride secure in the , knowledge that these xenophobic protestors are a minority. >> given the problems the world is currently facing, we most certainly are not going to get anywhere by whistling and shouting. damien: germany is thriving and will continue to do so under my leadership, that is merkel's message. she has experience and the healthy state of the german economy on her side. >> let's look at today's situation. here in the city of brandenburg and across the whole state, unemployment is down. we've halved the unemployment figures. damien: this is an election campaign without any major controversies. and it seems, one that is unlikely to have any surprises in store.
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martin schulz is undeterred. he's reaching out to undecided voters. >> i strongly believe we have a good chance of winning this election. look at the atmosphere here, people are here, they're listening, they're interested. all the pollsters are telling us that almost 50% of voters are still undecided. damien: sebastian hopes he's taking a selfie with germany's next chancellor. by the end of the month, he'll know if it's a photo worth treasuring for posterity, or not. damien: one of the major topics of this election is migration. over the past two years, more than 1.5 million refugees and migrants came here to germany. many of them syrian refugees, fleeing the war. that is why all over berlin we see syrian shops and restaurants springing up. it is a sign many syrians are feeling at home in germany.
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that is not the case for syrian refugees in turkey. millions of people have fled the war from syria to turkey, hoping to get to europe. but there are now stranded in turkey because of a controversial deal between erdogan, turkey's president, and the european union. many syrian refugees say they no longer feel welcome in turkey. >> a young syrian whom we'll call mahmut fled his country's civil war and now lives anonymously in istanbul. his flight was a nightmare. he says that when he reached the syrian border, turkish soldiers abducted and threatened him and other refugees. >> so he was pointing at me the gun and he said i should say my last prayer. another had a panic attack, started to cry and yell. after 10 minutes he looked at us and said, i am kidding. >> mistreatment of refugees at
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the turkish-syrian border is being reported more and more frequently. this recently filmed cell-phone video shows turkish soldiers beating and kicking syrian youths who have crossed the border. human rights organizations are alarmed. racist attacks against refugees are on the rise in turkey's big cities. the refugees' precarious situation makes it easy to encourage hostility. >> if you have a situation where it's difficult for people to register in some circumstances, for them to get a solid legal status. and some of the country's political parties are making negative and inaccurate statements against the refugees in the country. it is an environment where unfortunately, attacks like this could increase. >> the city of mersin on turkey's southern coast is just a two-hour drive from the syrian border.
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the fishermen say that, not so long ago, boats smuggling refugees left here regularly at night. now the turkish coast guard patrols the coast more closely. many turks have come to resent the foreign refugees. >> two years ago, they were still unemployed. but now many of them have opened shops. they are doing better than we are. >> in the quarter of mersin where the refugees live, opinion is divided -- should they stay in turkey, or move on to europe? this married couple from northern syria wants to leave turkey as soon as possible. >> we live from hand to mouth. sometimes we work in the fields. but we don't speak the language. we're outsiders here. >> i sold everything i had in syria. i want to use the money to get my family and myself out of here. >> other syrians want to wait and see.
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it's been a long time since anyone considered turkey tolerant and welcoming. >> turkey uses refugees as a threat against europe. it's not good. so i'd rather return to my own country, as soon as that's possible. >> this syrian people-smuggler says only about 20 people a month are still willing to pay up to to be brought illegally to $600 europe. but when the political conflict between europe and turkey flares up, like now, his business picks up, too. >> then the police and coast guard controls are less stringent. and more refugees approach us. we've certainly noticed that. >> mahmut would like to move on to europe. he fears turkey's hostile attitude toward refugees could reach a tipping point. but he knows that, for the time being at least, the farthest he'd get is greece. damien: this spot has become a place of sadness and mourning.
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last christmas, 12 people were killed when a truck rammed into a christmas market here. the attacker turned out to be in islamist extremists, who came to germany masquerading as that refugee. the attack shock to germany. it also sparked a debate about national security. and fears that some islamist jihadis could come to germany pretending to be asylum-seekers. >> an arabic language facebook page -- here, it's easy to find tips for entering europe illegally, on a real passport price. we pretend to be in the market for a real passport to see just how easy it is to come by. our front, 24-year-old amr from syria is offering his german refugee passport, claiming he's returning home. a prospective buyer isn't long in coming.
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recording with a hidden camera, we meet a syrian man, about 30 years old. he wants to bring his brother to germany from turkey, and he needs a passport. he shows us a photo. >> as soon as my brother's in greece, i'll send him your passport. as soon as he's in germany, i'll call you and give it back. nobody will notice. >> but if your brother messes up, it'll come back to me. >> once you've sold something and received the money, you are no longer responsible. i need the passport for my brother. as soon as he's here, you'll get it back, really. >> how will you get from greece to munich? >> he will fly to france, and from there, to munich. the checks on direct flights from greece to germany are getting tougher, but flights coming from france or italy aren't checked as often. >> what does law enforcement know about this?
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we enquire with europol, but they won't give an interview on camera. they send a written statement. the use of legal documents for purposes of smuggling migrants is known to europol. original documents are in high demand with illegal migrants. europol mentioned a growing business trend but doesn't cite any exact figures. we head off to the netherlands. on a facebook forum, we've contacted a syrian, who made it into europe by plane on a real passport. he's a syrian chemist in his early thirties. it took him over a year to reach western europe. his brother was granted refugee status, but he was denied entry for lack of a visa. so he turned to a smuggler. the route took him from syria through turkey to greece and then to athens airport. >> the smuggler looked at me and picked out some photos on his
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laptop that resembled me. he had lots of refugee passports as well as regular passports of all nationalities. this man looked quite normal, not like a criminal but more , like a salesman. he wasn't the violent type or a slave trader. it was just his business to smuggle people. >> the syrian past 3500 euros to a middleman. and two days later, he was on a plane out of athens. he says there were two more refugees on that flight. one headed to belgium, the other, to germany put there by , the same smuggler. >> in answer to our inquiry, the german government conceded that many refugees try to make it from greece to germany by plane. anyone who makes it to germany on false papers can theoretically use them to rent an apartment and claim benefits
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, or even go underground. more prospective buyers show up for that refugee passport we pretend to offer. within days, we see it advertized in a public arabic-language chat room along with several other passports. it serves as a marketplace for id papers. >> brother, i also need photos of your other papers -- insurance cards, bank cards, bank statements, and so on. >> it would be just as easy for terrorists to enter the country, disappear and plan attacks. the attacks in paris, brussels and berlin prove that this concern is well-founded. as long as they can be bought and sold so easily, the papers are failing to serve their intended purpose. damien: when you think of germany you often think of economic success. at the moment, that is certainly the case. job rates are at an all-time
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high and exports are booming. you even see the economy is doing well here in berlin, which is traditionally not the richest part of the country. that is all great for germany, but it is causing a few problems for germany's neighbor, france. >> germany, as seen from the french region of alsace. french family business velum, which makes lighting technology and is based in bischofsheim, wants to conquer the german market. so far, it's been exporting only a handful of its products to german businesses, restaurants and industrial factories. now, velum boss anne vetter wants to double her company's exports to germany to a volume of 4 million euros. but for that, the company also needs change its image. >> a german company boss told me he was surprised france makes such high-quality products. it hurt to hear that. because it's unfair. we french must prove that our
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products are better or at least as good as those made in germany. >> vetter is proud of her innovative business concept customers can choose the shape , and colour of lighting to suit their specific wishes. velum engineers then calculate which color temperature and intensity is best suited to a particular space. >> up there, we've installed lighting rails. they don't emit a harsh white light but instead a softer yellow light that adapts to the outside light area when the sun shines, there's less artificial light. when it's cloudy or evening, the light intensifies. >> but despite such ingenuity, vetter's business struggles to compete with german companies. for years, germany has benefitted from lower non-wage labour costs and greater labour
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market flexibility. vetter also blames the stubbornness of french unions for this situation. >> labor laws finally need simplification. we have so many pointless laws and we spend a large portion of our time checking if we're complying with all of them. i'd rather invest my time in something sensible, like marketing or developing new products, for example. >> like so many other french entrepreneurs, vetter wants her business to become a major player again. but for that, germany also needs to stop making things difficult for the french, says the head of the all station development agency, vincent froehlicher. >> french and alsatian businesses in particular know that you can't be naive regarding the germans. germans know how to protect their car industry and to
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enforce their standards. and they don't open their markets like they say they do. >> in the last ten years, germany and france have been drifting apart. industrial production has dropped 10% in france and grown 10% in jump -- in germany. that french companies are now setting their sights on the german market is no cause for concern in germany. on the contrary, says pascale mollet. mollet is french but works for the german chamber of commerce in lahr, in southwestern germany. she thinks the french have been too timid. >> the french are insecure, uncertain about their targets and how to reach them. that complicates business. so when the french become more competitive, that means german businesses gain stronger partners.
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>> that's exactly what velum boss anne vetter wants, she wants her business to become a business partner, rather than a competitor, to german companies. even though the competition over markets could possibly undermine the widely trumpeted german-french friendship. damien: who is going to be moving into the chancellor's office? angela merkel or martin schulz? whoever wins will have a big impact, not just in germany. angela merkel has a reputation of dealing with difficult political leaders all over the world. martin scholz says he wants more cooperation and leadership -- solidarity between different european countries. whoever takes over in berlin will have a big impact on the european union. >> europe has its eyes on germany. who will win the election? europe's longest-governing head of government angela merkel, or
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european union insider martin schulz? who can better lead europe into the future, she or he? the refugee crisis has sometimes isolated chancellor merkel in europe. she's been severely criticized for making decisions without conferring with other countries. she opened the borders, and european countries are still bickering about who should take in migrants. will it prove to be an advantage for challenger martin schulz? he wants to impose sanctions on e.u. countries that refuse to take in refugees. >> i'm skeptical. i think that would more likely provoke a counter-reaction in those e.u. member states. those in power, mr. orban in hungary and mr. kuczynski in poland, would use it to argue, see? they want to pressure . we don't want that and our people don't either. that would probably make it impossible to reach a compromise on the european level. >> merkel was in power during the european debt crisis.
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throughout europe, she is still seen as favoring thrift rather than investment. now france's new president macron wants far-reaching reforms, an e.u. finance minister, and a budget of its own for the whole eurozone. is merkel prepared for such radical restructuring? >> i think a chancellor schulz, if he wins the election, would be more willing to compromise with france and, based on those compromises, to also find consensus on how to continue with the economic and currency union. he would be more willing to compromise. >> merkel enjoys great international respect. she is even said to be able to deal with russian president putin. but in e.u. politics she and
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, martin schulz are on the same level. in europe, it's time for a show of confidence. only a courageous performance on the world's stage will persuade those hesitating within the e.u. who will do a better job. she or he -- one way or the other, this election will decide the course europe takes. damien: here in berlin you can really feel that an eltions about to happen. on the streets, there are more political rallies than ever. but what is the mood like in the rest of the country? we have been to the north german coast. because of the geographical location, it is one of the smallest constituencies in germany, the issues being discussed a there are very different to those in the rest of the cntry. >> lgeness is e of the lligen, 10mallslan off the north a cot. it's home to more ws than people. everything locals need is brought here by ship, including the ballot cards for the upcoming election. the polling station is the local
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school, which is attended by 19 children. the mayor is setting up the ballot box. not many politicians bother campaigning here. >> astrid damerow was here. >> she is a candidate? >> yes, she paid us a visit. >> big turnout? >> no, not really. it was a nice day. i showed her around and spoke of our concerns and what we would like to change. >> their concerns have nothing to do with refugees or social injustice. the main issue for the 89 people eligible to vote on hallig langeness is climate change. it's obvious why. all the houses here are built on small hills, and during storm surges, locals fear the hills won't be high enough to protect
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their homes and their animals from rising sea levels. >> in the years we've lived here we've certainly noticed a rise in sea levels. we've also seen flooding and winds have also gotten much worse. they can come on unexpectedly and are increasingly violent. >> on the other side of the island, where a solitary e.u. flag waves in the wind, johann petersen doesn't share those concerns. he's a member of the green party, but it didn't support his run for the german parliament. maybe because he doesn't belief -- does not believe that sea levels are rising. >> the highest sea level ever measured on the north friesan coast was in 1825. that must be kept that in mind. and another thing, the houses here, like this one built in
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have never been flooded. 1967, that in itself proves the water levels aren't rising. the theory is rubbish, plain and simple. >> it's an issue the locals can argue about till the cows come home if and when they should , meet. it's isolated up here. the neighbouring island of oland can only be reached by light railway. or by walking across the mudflats. that's why most people here opt to vote by mail. as little action as there is on langeness, there's even less on oland. even when an election is looming. >> election campaign, yeah right! we don't see much campaigning here on the islands. l haven't even seen a poster. not on oland, not on langeness. where would they hang them? they wouldn't last in the wind or the rain. so no, i've never seen a poster. >> it's true, there's no
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evidence that an election campaign is underway in germany. aside from a random sticker that reads stop right-wing populism. , campaigning may be minimal, but it is affected. voter turnout here is generally 100%. damien: wow, model constituency, 100% voter turnout. that is it for our election special from berlin. thank you for watching and join us next time for stories from all over europe. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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